Spin, a stationless bike rental startup, might be catching some heat from the San Francisco Metropolitan Transit Agency soon as someone snapped a photo of the app-unlockable bikes parked where they shouldn't be, complete with a missing wheel because hey, it's still a bike parked in the city and all. Such is the tax for riding a bicycle in San Francisco.
According to Hoodline's report on Spin and their wayward bikes, the startup has a "partial" agreement with the SFMTA and co-working space WeWork, allowing them to provisionally operate in the city. The stipulations of that agreement require Spin to only allow their bikes to be parked on WeWork property grounds. Thus far, there are only about 50 Spin bikes in operation around the city (49 if you knock off the one with the missing wheel in the photo above), all of which need to be parked in one of WeWork's 10 San Francisco locations.
If they fail to comply with this rule, the company could be hit with some serious fines. Hoodline also shared the above photo with SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose, who commented, "The two bikes on the left—side-by-side cluttering a very busy sidewalk between a sign pole and outdoor seating—represent the type of situation we seek to avoid by requiring the operator to comply with conditions of our permit."
Previously, Bluegogo, a Chinese company who attempted to do what Spin is doing, pulled all their bikes from San Francisco when city residents complained about seeing them abandoned in their neighborhoods. Spin's trouble here seems minor, comparatively, as they aren't exactly dealing with bikes turning up all over the place.
Thing is, even city-approved rental bicycle companies that use docks are having issues of their own. Earlier this year, Ford's GoBike program was met with much controversy as local neighborhoods all around San Francisco and Oakland rejected the placement of the docks in their areas. According to the SF Examiner, the problem, many said, was that neither Ford nor Motivate, the managing company behind the bikes, communicated very well that such installations were being made. Truth be told, the stations felt a bit like they popped up overnight, and so, too, did reports of abandoned GoBikes found in trees or in Lake Merritt.
Spin feels a little bit like the same deal here, as again, it's a company that's started pretty small, only to have bikes suddenly turn up in public where they're a bit in the way. To their credit, they're trying to work with the city to make sure they're sticking to regulations, and save for this relatively minor incident, they seem to be doing pretty well in that regard.